Great Jones Street

ISBN: 0140179178
ISBN 13: 9780140179170
By: Don DeLillo

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Reader's Thoughts

Eric T. Voigt

I took two days off of work, in the return of freezing weather and falling snow, to hole up under the warm sheets or on the cool couch with a poodle and finish this thing. Bucky Wunderlick's plague of coincidence is some brutal stuff. It's hard to have a vast network of criminals, wanna-be criminals and legally operating criminals expecting so much from you, I imagine. Had precursoring tones to it when thinking of "Running Dog" coming afterwards, with the violent murders and the confusion and range of interested parties in ultimately unsatisfactory product(s). Not as funny, but more than made up for that by being more existential. The privacy of looking in was achieved, I'd say, with Bucky's narration. Wish those lyrics had music set to them.

Andrew Pagano

The book that best captures the spirit of rock n' roll happens to be about walking away from the lifestyle. Well, I shouldn't say "walking," as protagonist Bucky Wunderlick doesn't do much walking, or anything else. A combination of Dylan and Jagger, Bucky spends the novel sitting around his NY apartment. The events of the plot largely happen around or near him, and his reaction to these phenomena make up the reader's impression of the character. It's beautiful and sad. It's nihilistic and glamorous. It's rock n' roll.

Jess Palmer

I've been meaning to read Great Jones Street for two years now, on the recommendation of a complete stranger. Separated from friends at a concert, I chatted up the people around me. One was a writer, and when we got to talking about books he said this was his favorite. By no means is it the best book I've ever read, but I definitely enjoyed it. The ex-rock star narrator, Bucky Wunderlick, is amusingly aloof and brings you into his disenchanted frame of mind. He isn't a character I want to be, but certainly one I want to read about. My favorite part, however, was the setting. The New YorkCity scenes are bleak, dirty, and filled with strange characters that appear in a random, and entertaining, succession. The Lower East Side of Manhattan is an area I'm familiar with, but here it is written about in a time I will never get to experience: forty years ago at the peak of rock 'n' roll.

Bruce Watson

Before there was "Spinal Tap," Don DeLillo plumbed the absurdity of rock music celebrity in "Great Jones Street." With shades of his later (and better) "White Noise," he goes straight for the jugular, even adding lyrics, reviews, and celebrity interviews. Thus, although the novel was written in 1972, it has lost none of its punch. DeLillo's disillusioned rock star, Bucky Wunderlick, delivers and overhears monologues of delightful inanity, all the while searching for some meaning in his mindless universe. Dark, cynical, contemporary, and very funny.


La consueta critica alla modernità qui si concentra sul mondo del rock, o almeno vorrebbe farlo: trovo che la (sub)cultura musicale qui non si veda per nulla, e per un romanzo che dall'inizio alla fine è narrato in prima persona da una rockstar di fama mondiale è un bel buco.Ho molto amato altri libri di DeLillo, ma questo l'ho finito a fatica: verboso e vuoto, si risolleva nel finale. C'è da dire che è del 1973, e che in seguito la padronanza del linguaggio per quello che ho potuto constatare si è evoluta molto.

Parrish Lantern

“Fame requires every kind of excess” “I mean true fame, not the sombre renown of weary statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the very edge of the void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic…………. ( is it clear I was a hero of Rock ‘n’ Roll)So starts Don Delillo’s 3rd novel, Great Jones Street. The hero, Bucky Wunderlick, has left the group high & dry, by dropping out of a national tour at the height of their fame & success. His reasoning is to seek out an alternate existence, outside of his public persona, by seeking refuge in some crummy bedsit on Great Jones Street. The problem with this is everyone knows he’s there, his manager (the building is owned by his management company), members of a cult, fellow band members etc & they all want to or already do own a piece of him. Some are after some experimental super drug & some for some tapes of music he has made.In trying to write this piece, I’ve checked out various resources & they make comparisons between the hero & Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison & even Kurt Cobain (amazing as the book was out in the early 70’s), discussing the relationship between self & public persona. In the book there is no division, the public perception has as much credibility as the individual, Bucky & us, as readers, constantly learn of his exploits all whilst constantly aware he hasn’t left Great Jones Street, making rumour & publicity at least as real as his private self.Also mentioned a lot is the connection between the underground movement & rock. There's a cult called the Happy valley farm commune, who have set up home in a lower eastside tenement & seem to connect themselves with Bucky's withdrawal from society (or his perception of it). Personally I think Delillo points us elsewhere to what he perceives as the real underground, through the character of Watney(named after the English beer comp?) an old retired English rocker who says on page 232 “The presidents & prime ministers are the ones who make the underground deals & speak the true underground idiom. The corporations. The military. The banks.This is the underground network. This is where it happens. Power flows under the surface, far beneath the level you & I live on. This is where the laws are broken, way down under, far beneath the speed freaks & cutters of smack. Your not insulated or unaccountable the way a corporate force is.Your audience is not the relevant audience.It doesn’t make anything. It doesn’t sell to others.Your life consumes itself”If this book has a message, its something like, rock & its rebel underground image has no real status, no power, it is merely a way of selling a particular commodity. That the real status,those that really stick their fingers up to the man, are the man. This was probably true then & it definitely resonates with what makes the news today.This book also left me with a dilemma, a question. Can you still like a book that has no redeeming characters, that has no likable quality in its ideals, individuals or even the images it portrays…..In the end it’s saved by the sheer power & beauty of the writing, it is strong, erotic & has a insular nature suited to its main character, in fact it reminded me of a book I read years ago, that was also in a confined setting & had a poetic nature & that was Lawrence Durrell's The black book


A quick review of Great Jones Street - simply didn't like this. I picked it up at Book Off with the rest of my "to Steve from Steve" Christmas presents. My initial view was a Penguin label (generally a positive), a book about musicians and a book about NY. None of this sounds bad to me. I just didn't get it. I suppose I'm not Rock and Roll enough, because the whole sitting around doing nothing did nothing for me. On the cover this mentions nihilism. I'm thinking maybe I don't enjoy nihilistic endeavors…but yet some of my favorites are nihilistic in nature. Maybe its just that I read those ten years ago and I'm too old for it now. I don't know. I just didn't get it. The plot of moving the drug package was eh and the peripheral characters were just unappealing. Its tough for me to offer up a 1 rating…but this was damn close (editor's note: changed this to a 1 rating. In retrospect, it sucked). I'm just not seeing where things were enjoyable here. I'm not seeing how rock and roll this was. Guy decides his music isn't appreciated the way it should be (don't get me started on rock musicians and artistry) and he'll hole himself up and pretend he's dead for a while. Just in general, unappealing. Do I sound bitter? Good…wasted a week and a whole dollar on this.


" 'Watney by this time has placed a call to his house outside London and finds himself in the regrettable situation of not being at home to answer the telephone. He's trying to call himself, ding-ding, and nobody's picking up the phone. The result is fear and dread. He sits on the floor weeping real tears into the phone. Oh, it's a crisis of no small proportion. The guy is in the grip of blackest anxiety. Absolute terror in his eyes. Oh, he's terror-stricken, no doubt about it, ding-ding-ding in his ear. This was Watney when he first swam into my ken, long before he picked up the shield of a businessman.' "This novel is the absurdist tale of Bucky Wonderlick, the world's foremost rock star, who quits his band mid-tour to hole up in his girlfriend's flat on Great Jones Street, where various absurd situations impose themselves on him. The above quote is from the somewhat Burroughsian (at least that's how I visualize him) druglord, Dr.Pepper. Below, an exchange with his ex-bandmate, Azarian: " 'What are you doing in L.A.?' I asked. 'Tremendous things. I probably shouldn't tell you about it. In fact, I'm determined not to.' 'What is it?' 'Blackness.' 'Black music?' 'Black everything,' Azarian said. 'Blackness as such.' 'What's it like being into blackness?' 'I'm not that far into it yet. But I'm making my way, little by little. I really shouldn't be talking about it. It's really deep, Bucky. Deep and dark. It's pressing against me with tremendous weight, practically crushing my chest. A lot of fear is involved. All kinds of fear. It's hard to pick out a single moment when I'm not afraid.' "


This was my first DeLillo book. How is that pronounced anyway? I keep wanting to say, "Duh-Leeyo." No, I'm pretty sure it's pronounced phonetically, because that's how the friend who's been recommending him to me for years pronounces it, "DeLillo." Anyway, I'm pretty enthusiastic about this book. I'm very much looking forward to checking out his catalogue.The book is about the nature of fame and sex and attention and addiction and other things. It's not a long book. It's well constructed in a postmodern kinda way. Bucky Wunderlick is a Bobby Zimmerman type who just wants to chill out and be Robert for a while. Too bad everyone has to go and make his life so extreme. He might as well just kill himself, or maybe return to the stage?

Michael Vagnetti

Novel? Here, the writing is fried circuitry, too hot to touch, but still engineered, built to do work, a writer's mad science. Paragraphs are the tracks left by throbs and pulses of energy coming 'round again. Share the urgency. Decorum is busted. The writing takes the sharp ends of short sentences and punctures holes in the page. Breathing holes. Shunts to somewhere. This writing has a weird relationship with "the void." It's spectral, it's everywhere but it comes in hints. Shake the book. Look in between the pages. Characters are trying to find a way to be post-famous, private. They were musicians once, they arranged words in a way that doesn't work now. There are passages that make you drop the book: "They pressed against each other, chained to their invisible history, the youngest among them knowing of all needs that one is uppermost, the need to be illiterate in the land of the self-erasing word." (133)


I LOVE VACATION! I can actually finish a book. Anyway, this one is like Crying of Lot 49 Lite, which is alright for holiday I guess. The drug/rockstar/paranoia plot is a tight draw but he just ends up hitting you over the head with it. Really, by the last chapter I was just looking forward to getting to the not-so-surprising conclusion of rockstar Bucky Wunderlick, but maybe because I've got a book about Spain to read and I'm here, so Great Jones Street, even set in the '70s, is reminding me of what's waiting at home and I'm having so much fun I don't want to come back, not yet anyway. This review ended up being not so much about the book. Oh well: here's my favorite quote to bring it all back: "You have been listening to a panel discussion on a subject yet to be agreed on. Our panelists will now disrobe and paint each other's bodies in colorful native pigments."


Premessa: questo è uno di quei libri sfortunati che ogni volta che ti metti a leggerli succede qualcosa che interrompe/disturba la lettura. Quindi sappiate che non l'ho letto attentissimamente.Fatto sta che comunque non mi è piaciuto tantissimo, ma non mi è neanche dispiaciuto. È scritto bene, soprattutto per quanto riguarda i dialoghi, personaggi caratterizzati bene eccetera. Il problema sta nella trama e in certe scene che non hanno né capo né coda, nel senso che non sono conseguenza di niente e non causano niente. Semplicemente arriva un personaggio, dice le sue battute, se ne va, e se non le avesse dette non sarebbe cambiato nulla.Il libro decolla veramente intorno a pagina 93, quando succede una certa cosa che sarebbe dovuta succedere, secondo me, una settantina di pagine prima. La trama quindi è debole ed ha un'importanza relativa, e forse è l'intento dell'autore. Il libro è scritto in prima persona dal punto di vista del protagonista, una rockstar che si è un po' rotta di stare sempre in tournée e in sala d'incisione e che quindi decide di andare in un appartamento in Great Jones Street per isolarsi dal mondo. Il punto di vista è molto introspettivo, e la trama è meno importante che in altri romanzi, ma questo lo rende anche meno appassionante. Comunque è un libro che penso di rileggere, credo ci sia di più di quanto non abbia notato.Consigliato se vi piacciono i romanzi introspettivi e psicologici.

Óscar Brox

Los primeros años de la década de los 70 empezaron con las muertes de Morrison o Hendrix, que hicieron más palmaria aquella visión del rock que cantara Eric Burdon como un lugar “to wear that ball and chain”. Las revoluciones juveniles se refugiaron entre las sábanas de pequeños dormitorios y el éxtasis de aquellas generaciones previas comenzó a disiparse junto al sueño de un nuevo orden para la sociedad. Mientras el rock psicodélico apuraba sus últimos coletazos, a la espera de que su sonido evolucionase hacia lo progresivo, Don DeLillo escribía su tercera novela, La calle Great Jones, con la mirada puesta en el ocaso de ese fenómeno cultural. Un apogeo que dejaría al descubierto las miserias de la emergente sociedad del capitalismo avanzado. Tres décadas después, Seix Barral continúa su encomiable labor editorial con la publicación al castellano de esta estimable, por ingeniosa y feroz, novela de sus inicios.Bucky Wunderlick es una estrella del rock cuya carrera parece atrapada en un ángulo muerto, entre los balbuceos y el caos musical que han coronado sus últimos discos, reducidos a una definición casi infantil que lleva por nombre Pipimomo. Hastiado de esa realidad en la que cada vez resulta más difícil permanecer agarrado a algo verdadero, Bucky se esconde en un apartamento de la zona de Manhattan. Parapetado tras la cama en la que su protagonista deja pasar el tiempo, DeLillo compone una sátira sobre una época donde los afectos, incluso la realidad, pierden su valor a medida que olvidan cuál es su sentido. Ahora que la euforia ante la posibilidad de imprimir un cambio en nuestra manera de ver las cosas se diluye con el final de las utopías, resulta indispensable encontrar los medios que nos permitan seguir creyendo en la ilusión. Así, ese pequeño piso de la calle Great Jones se convierte en el centro neurálgico de la operación, en el que las visitas constantes de periodistas, representantes o miembros de una extraña cooperativa agraria que trata de distribuir una nueva droga en el mercado dibujan el esfuerzo por mantener con vida un espíritu que ha perdido su lugar; por construir una marca, un estado emocional, que se consuma en una cinta o en una dosis, en un paraíso artificial.A través de su escritura precisa, DeLillo anota cada detalle como un movimiento mediante el cual la realidad se convierte en algo inestable que desdibuja cada paso de su protagonista. El ocaso de unos afectos que, tras la cultura expansiva de los 60, volvemos a vivir de puertas adentro. Por eso, no resulta extraño que uno de los personajes admita, en un pasaje de la novela, ese giro hacia el interior que está larvándose silenciosamente como el presente del rock, como si el destino de las estrellas fuese convertirse en un sueño, en un estado de ánimo. La prolongación del efecto por otros medios. Eso es lo que busca el representante de Bucky con las cintas con material inédito (el producto) que aquel grabó en su casa de las montañas; también lo que los diferentes grupúsculos trata de diseminar en la calle con su nueva droga (el producto). Esa clase de conmoción que aún sabe cómo sacar el impulso visceral de nuestro interior.Cada página de La calle Great Jones parece tocada por el lenguaje de la incertidumbre, aquel que transforma la realidad en lo que sea que haya ahí fuera, una sensación mezcla de vacío emocional y frenesí capitalista que DeLillo convierte en el idioma de los personajes y su tiempo. Frases entrecortadas y repetitivas, siempre a la caza de unas sensaciones embalsamadas en el puro tedio, en el fracaso de una juventud que, apenas rascada la treintena, se siente envejecida. De ahí el agotamiento de Bucky, incapaz de continuar una carrera que ha olvidado su razón de ser. De ahí, también, el dolor sordo, inhábil para verbalizar sensaciones, que envuelve cada muerte o desaparición en la novela, que DeLillo describe prácticamente como fugas fantasmales. De ahí, aún más, ese extraño terror que embarga a Bucky cuando contempla el rostro imposible de su vecino, una criatura deforme que encapsula en su monstruosidad todas aquellas reacciones que la sociedad ha reprimido. El anhelo de Bucky de convertirse en un sueño es, pues, el anhelo de una generación por recuperar un territorio que la sociedad no había colonizado ni domesticado. Ese sueño, por qué no decirlo, es nuestra vida interior. Nuestra identidad.La nueva droga, que comparte con la música la misma naturaleza de producto, acaba inyectada en el cuerpo de Bucky. Según advierte uno de los personajes, su efecto ataca directamente a la región cerebral en la que se alojan las habilidades lingüísticas. Reducido a un cuerpo trémulo, vacilante, incapaz de pronunciar la palabra más sencilla, Bucky se abandona a unos ritmos vitales que reflejan aquello que describía su música más alucinada. Como si se alojase en una cámara anecoica, DeLillo expone el repliegue hacia el interior de su protagonista, donde la vida late con una frecuencia distinta. Lo hermoso de La calle Great Jones reside en la habilidad de su autor para pintar ese cuelgue brutal como el último momento de unas emociones que la aplastante lógica cultural del capitalismo avanzado acabará vampirizando. Ese momento, tan caro a la obra de DeLillo, que denota la búsqueda elemental que todos, en algún momento de nuestras vidas, emprendemos cuando nos preguntamos por la belleza de las cosas. Un rayo, un ritmo secreto, en el que por unos segundos la vida continúa palpitando frente a la impostura más atroz. Esa a la que siempre volvemos.Publicado en Détour

Jordan Munn

I'd read White Noise prior to Great Jones Street, and it was surprising to see a few connections between the two books, especially given the time between the two. I liked the themes of supersaturation of a personality into a society, the ensuing turmoil, questions regarding personal identity versus social identity, and personal privacy. The book moves pretty easily and doesn't bog down at all. The plot gives enough twists, tosses in just enough rock-and-roll mystique, and sparkles with enough humor to make it pretty even. Enjoyable read.

Stuart Ross

this book is very dark. not as dark as i expected. has a 4 page riff on "pornography for children" vs: "child pornography" that had me laughing way too loud on an amtrak train.

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